Brevard College Cycling Team Wins 5 Individual National Titles
Last updated 10/20/2021 at 3:52pm
The Brevard College Cycling team earned five individual national titles, more than any other participating school, and a third-place overall team finish at the 2021 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships held Oct. 14-17 at Purgatory Resort in Durango, Colorado.
Brevard College senior Tyler Orschel won a total of three national championships, with titles in the Men's Varsity Individual Omnium, given to the top overall rider, Cross Country and Short Track Cross Country.
Senior Tyler Clark, the 2019 Individual Omnium national champion, won the Men's Varsity Downhill championship. On the women's side, senior Erica Leonard won the Women's Varsity Downhill national championship to give the Tornados five national titles between the three riders.
Brevard placed third at the event behind team national champion Colorado Mesa University and second-place Fort Lewis College, making BC the highest finishing collegiate program in the eastern half of the United States.
It marked the second straight mountain bike national championship the Tornados have finished in third place with the same team result at the 2019 nationals in Big Bear Lake, California.
The 2020 collegiate nationals were not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In total, the Tornados earned 11 podium finishes at the 2021 national event in addition to the five individual national cham-pionships.
The performance came in challenging weather conditions with mud, snow and ice as well as an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet – all factors on the race courses at the Purgatory Resort in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. The BC student-athletes arrived upon a mountain full of snow at the start of the event that turned into very muddy conditions as the temperatures rose throughout the weekend. Despite the conditions, the Tornados produced sen-sational results that included zero DNF's (did not finish).
"We are overwhelmed with pride following the team's performances this week," said Brevard College Head Cycling Coach Brad Perley. "They overcame a lot of adversity and each student-athlete focused on ensuring they were fully prepared. These results wouldn't have been possible without tremendous support amongst the teammates but also from our friends and supporters. It's a special group."
Orschel, a native of Uxbridge, Ontario, began the flurry of race wins and strong finishes with a victory in Friday's Men's Varsity Cross Country. Orschel threw down a time of 1:19:44 in the endurance race to beat second-place finisher Torbjorn Roed, of Colorado Mesa, by nearly two minutes. Tyler Clark finished ninth, while BC's Owen Clark (11th), Philip Ford (14th), Tyler Miranda (15th) and Ryan Johnson (23rd) each finished strong in the race that featured 68 riders.
The following day, Orschel would continue his winning ways with a second national championship in Men's Varsity Short Track Cross Country. Tyler Clark placed sixth and Owen Clark finished ninth to give the Tornados a total of three top-10's in the event.
Sunday's Men's Varsity Downhill competition saw Tyler Clark, out of King City, Ontario, win the national title with the event's quickest time just ahead of second-place Orschel. Owen Clark finished fourth to give BC three of the five podium spots. BC's Jack Brown (11th), Cameron Mader (13th) and Watt Hackney (15th) also ran fast times as all six Tornados entered in the event finished amongst the top-15 of the field's 56 competitors.
Men's Varsity Dual Slalom saw Tyler Clark earn another podium with a fifth-place finish at an event that experienced several schedule changes before concluding Saturday.
Combining results from all four individual events, Orschel went on to win the Men's Varsity Individual Omnium title for top overall rider with 248 total points. Tyler Clark finished second, and Owen Clark third to give Brevard a 1-2-3 podium sweep in the individual omnium.
On the women's side, Leonard won her first career individual national title in Sunday's Women's Varsity Downhill. A native of Barrie, Ontario, Leonard was the fastest down the course with a time of 6:20.
Brevard College senior Rachel Pageau placed third in the event, after posting a mark of 6:24 which stood as the quickest time for much of the competition.
On Saturday, Leonard placed third and Pageau fifth in Women's Varsity Dual Slalom to take two of the five podium spots in that event as well.
In the women's endurance competitions, sophomore Nina Machnowski was the top-finishing BC rider with a 21st place finish out of 51 riders in Women's Varsity Cross Country and a 19th place result in Women's Varsity Short Track Cross Country.
Combining all the results, Leonard finished second overall in the Women's Individual Omnium, just eight points behind Lauren Lackman of Colorado Mesa. Pageau finished fourth in the individual omnium to give BC two female riders on the omnium podium for best overall performer.